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It’s the moment UFO fans have been waiting for – a mysterious set of files referred to as ‘Britain’s X-Files’ have been opened to the public this week.
Conspiracy fans are getting hot under the collar about one which throws light on a very strange incident from 1996 – where the RAF were ‘told to ignore’ a UFO sighting on radar.
Naturally, this has got conspiracy fans foaming at the mouth at the thought of a government cover-up (although it’s not quite as exciting as it seems).
Bright lights were seen on the morning of 5 October 1996 by several civilians – at the same time as a radar signal was detected – but the RAF did not respond.
A government official – whose name is blacked out – wrote to the Ministry of Defence, saying, ‘The RAF is supposed to, or so I believed, to be keeping a watchful eye on activity in the UK, but seem to have no idea what is going on.
‘Do they have standard procedure for these incidents? They had enough time to think about it, because the object was on our radar for upwards of seven hours!’ he said.
‘While I am interested in finding out what was seen, my primary concern stems from the absolute shambles that such events seem to cause’.
But it might not be quite as exciting as it seems, according to Nigel Watson, author of the UFO Investigations Manual.
Watson says, ‘This is not new information as the case became public in a batch of MOD files released in 2010. The radar signals were explained in a RAF report as being produced by St Botolph’s 273 feet tall church spire in Boston, Lincolnshire.
The report said, ‘The church spire is known in aviation circles as the ‘Boston Stump’ and appears occasionally on some radars in certain radar propagation conditions.’
‘The lights in The Wash area were observed from three separate locations high above the horizon and in the same general direction, but without corroborating radar data.
‘No associated air vehicle was detected by civil or military radars. This suggests a distant celestial source.’
These celestial sources were identified as Venus by the Royal Greenwich Observatory, and the stars Sirius and Vega were also regarded as culprits.
What are Britain’s X-Files?
The National Archive opened up a cache of 15 files from the Ministry of Defence – including material relating to the Rendlesham Forest incident.
In 1980, U.S. Army personnel stationed near Rendlesham in Suffolk saw a strange, metallic triangle which was ‘dripping molten metal’ – and witnessed a light like a ‘huge red eye’.
Unlike most UFO sightings, it was documented in voice recordings from senior American soldiers, who also drew disturbing pictures of the object they saw.
So far, the files have not been digitised, so UFO fans will have to read them on paper at the National Archive’s reading room in Kew, West London.
The files (of course) don’t contain a ‘smoking gun’ or descriptions of alien autopsies – but conspiracy theorists may well pounce on the fact that three files have been ‘held back’.
Nick Pope, who ran the defence ministry’s UFO project from 1991 to 1994 said: ‘The lack of a smoking gun and the fact that these files seem to have been slipped out without a formal media announcement is bound to start some conspiracy theories, and I know that many people believe the ‘good stuff’ is being held back.
‘Furthermore, the fact that some files haven’t been digitised, can’t be downloaded, and can only be viewed in person at the National Archives will doubtless also generate conspiracy theories.